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In "Araby" how is the conflict of the story resolved when the boy goes to the...

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joiner | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:01 PM via web

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In "Araby" how is the conflict of the story resolved when the boy goes to the bazaar?

James Joyce's "Araby"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 20, 2012 at 7:22 PM (Answer #1)

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With the hopes of bringing Mangan's sister a gift from the bazaar, the narrator recalls, 

[T]he syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me.

However, when he finally arrives after being delayed by the late return home of his uncle on Saturday, significantly, he must spend more for the price of admission than he has hoped.  Then, to his dismay, he discovers that most of the stalls have already closed and "the greater part of the hall was in darkness."  Instead of an exotic setting, the narrator finds men counting money under a curtain for a booth with a French title used to connote the romance and risque temptations of Paris; in addition, shop girls sit idly and engage in trivial gossip.  It is at this point that the youth realizes that his "stay was useless."  Looking "humbly," he turns and departs in the darkness of the hall as two pennies "fall against the sixpence in [his] pocket."

In these crushing moments of disillusionment in the supposed exotic bazaar, the narrator reaches an epiphany: 

I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity....

With a sudden realization, the youth recognizes his romantic ideas in which he has dressed the mundane with images of sacredness.  Mangan's sister is not saintly; she wears silver bracelets, symbolic of money and the mundane, and she is not the "grail" for which he seeks. Instead, like her name, suggestive of the Irish romantic poet James Clarence Mangan who wrote of doomed love and despair, thoughts of her now affect the narrator's disillusionment. And, unlike "Araby," the bazaar is a cheap imitation where mere trinkets are sold.

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